Alien: The Archive Book Review

As I’ve mentioned a time or two before, Alien is one of my favorite horror films. I love everything about it: the gritty aesthetic, the isolation, the blue collar crew, and of course the constant, slow building tension. Of course, Alien was only the beginning of what has become a huge franchise. As is happens, the sequel Aliens is probably my favorite action film. The whole experience is just so tight and well done I’m amazed every time I rewatch it. While I don’t love Alien3 and Alien Resurrection as much as the first two films, they still have a lot of positive things going for them.

The thing that makes the Alien universe so provocative and interesting is how rich it is. The original film probably did the best job at this. We never really find out who “the company” is, but we can make a lot of assumptions about them that turn out to be accurate as the series progresses. We also don’t know much about the alien or the long-dead occupants of the ship on which the alien eggs were found. These subtle touches allow the viewer to imagine a much broader, fuller universe the feels very real without actually showing us too much.

Alien: The Archvie Book Review

As I mentioned in my review of Alien Vault, the work that went into the films is just as interesting to me as the movies themselves, which is why I’m such a huge fan of these behind-the-scene books. Alien: The Archive sets itself apart because it gives a history of the entire series, rather than focusing on a single film. Because the universe in which these movies is so detailed and rich, this book scratches a big itch.

Alien: The Archive comes to us from the folks at Titan Books, the same people who published The Art of Dead Space, which I absolutely raved about. Everything that I loved about Dead Space is also present here, and my one complaint – that I would have liked to have seen a bit more textual content – is well addressed in The Archive. With that in mind, let’s look at this title two ways: visuals and writing.

As you would expect, the visuals in this volume are absolutely amazing, and varied. Not only is it chock full of production photography, as you would expect, there is are also tons of sketches, technical drawings, film stills, photography of props and miniatures, and storyboards. Every page you flip to is a visual feast, and once you pick the book up, it’s very hard to put back down.

Alien: The Archvie Book Review

The writing is just as rich as the visuals, and I say that as someone who’s watched every special feature on the Blu Rays a number of times. There’s a ton of interesting content here. Yes, you’ve probably heard or read some of it before, but there’s a good deal of fresh stuff here as well. The original film was released back in 1979, so there’s a lot of history in this franchise. Having it all in one, well organized volume is fantastic.

You may have noticed that I called Alien: The Archive “organized” above. That’s a very important factor for me. Having great content is important, but if it’s tough to navigate, no one is going to want to bother with it. Not only is this title extremely well arranged, it’s also beautifully printed in full color on glossy stock. This is an absolutely gorgeous book.

If you’re a fan of the Alien series, and how could you not be, Alien: The Archive is the definitive guide so far. This hefty book – it weighs over five pounds! – covers the series to date in an extremely thorough, methodical way. Don’t miss it.

Grade: 5 zombie heads out of 5



Just FYI, Dave: There is going to be another Aliens movie produced, but in this one, apparently, they’re going with the non-canon version, meaning that some characters you’ve seen die aren’t actually dead. Fair warning and all that, for when you finally get to review that movie. 🙂


Yes indeed! Directed by Neil Blomcamp, who did District 9. I’m looking forward to it. Alien 3 and Resurrection are the weak links in the series (although they do have their moments), and this movie will ignore them. Should be really interesting.

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